Saturday, 18 February 2017

RAF Badges

Pembroke Dock
Memorial Window
A short while ago we went back to visit the RAF Museum in north west London. We had an interesting time looking at the airplanes and reading the information boards by each one and the more detailed ones around the walls. There were* displays of medals and photos of those who earned them, with descriptions of their bravery in the face of the horrendous circumstances of air battles, some ignoring grave wounds to continue their flight to bring the plane and their crew safely home. What started as a day out to a place of interest ended up as a sobering education on the sacrifices made on our behalf, before we were even born, and which have made possible the world in which we now live and the comforts we are able to enjoy.

* Omission phrase "there (w)ere" 

My interest was caught by several large display cases full of rows of RAF insignia badges, each with an emblem in the middle and a motto along the bottom, illustrating the duties and background of each particular squadron. Most are in Latin, some are in English, and a few in other languages. Many of the mottoes could apply to any endeavour that needs firm and decisive action in order to be* successful, and I have picked out all those that seem to describe our world of shorthand effort and its necessities. At the end of each paragraph I have listed the squadron numbers in order*, so that you can check out the badges and history, should you wish to do so. Delving into the history will, by comparison, certainly extinguish the idea that shorthand learning and writing is any sort of hardship or difficulty.

* Omission phrase "in ord(er) to be". As the "to" is part of the first stroke, this phrase does not use the third place phraseogram "to be"

* "in order" Not using the phrase (Doubled Nr stroke), as this usage is slightly different, and separately is clearer RAF Heraldry Trust RAF Heraldry Trust Badges List

Facta non verba -
Deeds not words
As you start to learn our winged* art it is necessary to cultivate the virtues of “Determination” “Tenacity” “Endurance” “Foresight” and “Versatility”. You need to be “Energetic and keen” “Firm of purpose” “Swift” “Vigilant” and the students “Each tenacious” and resolved to “Fear nothing”. The path to success starts with an attitude of “They can because they think they can”, but this must be followed by “Deeds not words”, a decision to “Seize* the opportunity”, “Attempt and achieve” and “Achieve your aim”. You have to work through the lessons “With courage and faith” and learn “To strive and not to yield” and to “Strive to excel”. Your mind-set of “One time, one purpose” and “On, on!” will serve “To feed the flame” and help you to “Aim sure”. We all need to affirm that “Nothing escapes our notice”, “By strength we conquer” and so fly “With all speed to the stars”.

* "winged" Ensure the Ing is clearly thick, otherwise this could look like "window"

* "seize" This is the same outline as "cease", also a verb, and would need a note if you felt it needed distinguishing, maybe a wiggly underline, or letter Z in the margin

(Squadrons 142, 166, 120, 140, 183, 29, 64, 72&90, 208, 99, 501, 19, 20, 576, 102, 97, 18, 626, 17, 162, 272, 358, 15, 683, 21, 27)

Right from the beginning, there is the question* of dictations and how to survive them when you are “In the thick of things” and are doing your best to be “Swift in pursuit”, although sometimes you feel that “Nothing can withstand” the torrent of speech. Unknown words come up “Unexpectedly” but you must write them “Surely and quickly” and be “Swift and sure”. You are training your reactions to be “Swifter and keener than eagles” enabling you to remain “Always ahead and producing the correct outline “Always at the right moment” and “In time”. This is because your instructor told you “Don't prattle, act” to which you replied bravely “We fight to the finish” and “With speed I strike” and you can finally conclude that “Nothing can stand against us” because you decided to “Do right fear naught*”.

* "question" Optional contraction

* "naught" Insert the vowel and ensure it is clearly thick, as "not" would also make sense. "Naught" means "nothing" and "nought" means the numeral zero.

(Squadrons 258, 243, 514, 62, 511, 51, 11, 150, 211, 218, 322, 420, 114, 79, 137)

Quaero - I seek
Having mastered the basics, you will have to review and revise for speed trials and exams. You must constantly consult the shorthand dictionary, your “Faithful ally”, and know each outline “At first sight*” and if you don’t, then “Beware Beware”. You need “Eternal vigilance” for clashing outlines and “Be on your guard” against inaccuracies. Your enthusiasm for success will cause you to “Stop at nothing”, be “Always on the attack” and have shorthand on your mind “By day and by night” and “To the break of dawn” so that you can go from “Strength to strength”. Your pen or pencil must be the best possible, as it is your “Sine qua non/Indispensable” item and has to be entirely “Trusty”. Its maxim should be “I seek” and “I never sleep” so that “Nothing escapes us” and “By this means to victory”, having proved ourselves “Swift and strong”.

* "At first sight" In full, as it is a motto, although this can be an omission phrase - see

(Squadrons 152, 627, 611, 155, 88, 175, 23, 7&39, 255, 256, 540, 148, 544, 605, 206, 154, 260)

Vidi Vici - I saw I conquered
Eventually you may want to “Be bold” and prove your skill by taking a speed exam “If you dare”. But you know there are “No odds too great”. You are “Always prepared” and “Prepared for all things” and will have left “Nothing to chance”, enabling you to say “I fear nothing” and “This arm shall do it”. The examiner hopes that there is “Nobody unprepared” and when he starts, his words will come “Like a thunderbolt”. Pens and pencils must fly over the page “Without delay” “On wings of fire” and “Woe to the unwary” who do not “Strike with a sure hand”. At last you can say “Through difficulties I arise” and “I saw, I conquered”.

(Squadrons 229, 603, 67, 207, 24&296, 429, 502, 78, 128, 267, 426, 217, 427, 45, 191)

Apr├Ęs moi le deluge -
After me the flood
617 Squadron Dambusters
Writing it all down is not the end, you still have to transcribe*. You must read through the notes “To the end” and “Having watched, bring word” (or words) onto the page. You must “Be always vigilant” for errors and remain convinced that “I overcome” and finish it “To the very end”. Your “Accuracy” must be “To the mark” and with no gaps because “I think nothing done if anything remains undone”. Time is short, so you “Press on regardless” and see it “Through to the end”, because “It is necessary to make an end of it”.

* "transcribe" Omits the R, to make it less like "describe"

(Squadrons 238, 236, 202, 274, 428, 578, 415, 345, 463, 87, 248)

Eventually you will be using your shorthand at work. You got the job because you were* “Strong by speed” and convinced the employer that you are “Always ready” for “Anything anywhere” and have an attitude of “Come one, come all” and “It shall be done”. You are “Determined on delivery” and “Never failing” and will go “Here and everywhere” and “Everywhere without delay”. Each time you attend a meeting as note-taker, you can say “We are here” and “Silently we serve”. With your new skill, you can truly say “We lead, others follow”. (1020 words)

* Omission phrase "you (w)ere"

(Squadrons 195, 242&613, 437, 253, 117, 435, 98, 201, 167, 342, 527, 635)

This article is dedicated to my own RAF forebear of WW2, shot down in flames with only his identity disc returned home, but recorded and honoured in the RAF Memorial Book at York Minster.